The Illustrious Residents of Gramercy Park

The neighborhood of Gramercy is defined by a most unique feature: a private park. But it has attracted such an impressive number of notable personalities that the list of Gramercy Park residents may very well rival its “private park” reputation. #3&4 – James Harper (resident from 1847 to 1869) James Harper was the mayor of New York…

A Dutch Tradition in Gramercy

Even though New York City started its story as New Amsterdam, there is very little of the old Dutch town left to see. Through the years, the Dutch-looking houses perished or simply were replaced by newer structures. However, a small remnant of the old Dutch tradition can still be found in front of the house…

Frick Collection—the house built to be a museum

The Frick Museum, which houses a remarkable collection of art treasures, was originally build as a private residence of Henry Clay Frick, a Gilded Age industrialist and art collector. Armed with unbridled ambition, Henry Frick formed his own company by the age of 20. Vowing to himself that he would be a millionaire by the…

The Carnegie Mansion—the plainest house in New York?

All Andrew Carnegie wanted for his home was “the most modest, plainest, and most roomy house in New York.” While the 64-room Georgian Revival house succeeded in being roomy, it failed at being plain. The mansion is adorned by a private garden—a rarity in New York city. Andrew Carnegie, the great philanthropic industrialist and one…

Ukrainian Institute/Fletcher House/Sinclair Mansion

One of New York City’s most impressive turn-of-the-century structures—located on 5th Avenue at 79th Street—houses the Ukrainian Institute. The mansion was built in 1899 for Isaac D. Fletcher—businessman, art collector and museum benefactor. It was designed in the elaborate Châteauesque style by C.P.H. Gilbert, who was known for many notable palatial residences for the wealthy. Châteauesque, inspired by the 16th…

Grove Court—the Setting of O.Henry‘s Story

Grove Court was the setting of O. Henry‘s “The Last Leaf,” which tells the story of a sick woman who—looking from her sick bed at a vine through her window—convinces herself that she’ll die when the last leaf falls. But thanks to the power of art, she never sees the last leaf fall. A frustrated,…

The Keys to Gramercy Park

The dignified tranquility of Manhattan’s only private park is ensured by the heavy locks on the park’s gates. The park has been functioning as a private front yard for the Gramercy home owners since being gated in the 1830s and locked in 1844. Ever since Mr. Ruggles, a visionary developer, deeded the land, Gramercy Park…

Gramercy Park—from Swamp to Private Park

This charming little park can only be enjoyed from the outside . . . unless you happen to have a key. The general public is welcome to stroll around or stare into the park through the fence but is not allowed in. Gramercy Park has a rare distinction of being the only private park in…

Northern Dispensary—an Empty Building at the Heart of the West Village

Reflecting Greenwich Village’s highly irregular street patterns, one side of the triangular Northern Dispensary faces two streets (Christopher and Grove), while the other two sides form the corner of Waverly Place and . . . Waverly Place! And this is not even the strangest thing about the building. The peculiar structure stands empty in one…

Hangman’s Elm—the Oldest Living Tree in Manhattan

The sprawling English elm, which has been standing at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park for the last 300 years, is the oldest living tree in Manhattan. It was planted in 1679, a mere 15 years after the English took over the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York. The tree’s…

12 Gay Street: Where the Ghosts still come to Party

This quiet house on Gay Street, built in 1827, was once a bustling speakeasy and the home of a mayor’s mistress. Thanks to its name, this charming little street happens to be one of the city’s most photographed.  Alas, it was called “Gay Street” long before the word “gay” developed its present meaning. The street…

House of Death

This serene-looking brownstone, built in the 1850s, witnessed 22 deaths. Their spirits never left . . . This dignified yet unremarkable house that stands on one of the Greenwich Village’s loveliest blocks, has earned a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the city. Built in the 1850s as a single family house,…